LOS ANGELES - Ford Motor Company is rolling out a range of global environmental technologies that will provide customers more fuel-efficient vehicles that emit fewer greenhouse gases without compromising their expectations for safety, interior room or performance, Alan Mulally, Ford's president and CEO announced recently.

"Ford is committed to offering customers affordable, environmentally friendly technologies in vehicles they really want," Mulally said at the Los Angeles Auto Show. "We are focusing on sustainable technology solutions that can be used not for hundreds or thousands of cars - but for millions of cars, because that is how Ford can truly make a difference."

Climate Change

Ford recognizes climate change is a significant global challenge that must be addressed by a range of stakeholders. For the automotive industry, this includes the vehicle manufacturers, the fuel industry, governments and consumers.

Ford is developing modeling tools to map its future sustainability goals. They are helping the company to determine which technology solutions are viable over time by balancing customer wants, cost and environmental needs. The analysis will guide Ford's fuel economy plan through 2020.

Some of the improvements to boost fuel economy already are on the roadin today's vehicles, while Ford continues to innovate for the future. For example: Ford is eliminating energy waste in every vehicle system, such as power steering, cooling and electrical systems, as well as minimizing wind drag through design and optimizing its new 6-speed transmissions. All of these innovations are benefiting customers today, particularly in fuel economy.

"While we are implementing our near-, mid- and long-term plans, we are continuing to achieve efficiencies throughout the vehicle in areas that can quickly lead to fuel economy improvements today," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of Global Product Development. "We continue to make improvements in what we call the '1 percent' areas - items such as reducing wind drag, eliminating engine-driven power steering pumps and switching to low-friction engine oil. Collectively, these small improvements deliver significant fuel economy gains for our customers."

Delivering the numbers

The cornerstone of Ford's near-term plan is a new generation of smaller- displacement turbo-charged gasoline engines with advanced fuel-saving direct injection technologies. The new family of engines will provide customers with a fuel savings of between 10 to 20 percent without compromising performance.

With direct injection, fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber in small, precise amounts. When this is combined with turbo charging, customers will enjoy better performance and fewer trips to the gas pump.

During the next five years, Ford expects to introduce a range of gasoline turbo-charged direct injection engines in 4-cylinder and V-6 configuration in a significant number of vehicles globally. Ford will provide more details about its aggressive plans for this technology in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

"Our first application will be in the new Lincoln MKS less than a year after launch. It will deliver the power and torque of a V-8 engine with the fuel efficiency of a V-6," said Kuzak. "The beauty of gasoline direct injection is that it enables us to both downsize and boost the power of our engines to deliver the performance our customers want, as well as the fuel economy they need."

Technology Enablers

In addition to this family of new gasoline turbo- charged direct injection engines - and as part of the company's near- and mid- term plans - Ford will introduce a portfolio of technologies to achieve even greater fuel savings and emissions reductions. They include:

  • A new generation of fuel-saving twin-clutch transmissions, which deliver the fuel economy of a manual with the convenience of an automatic. These new transmissions include greater use of 6-speeds to replace less-efficient 4- and 5-speed gearboxes.

  • The use of advanced electric power assisted steering systems in between 80 and 90 percent of Ford vehicles.

  • Aerodynamic improvements through better design and wind tunnel optimization.

  • Weight reductions through platform efficiencies and greater use of aluminum and high-strength steel.

    "These actions will require reengineering and redesigning our vehicles," said Kuzak. "To apply the range of technologies across our fleet and in our plants will require a significant financial investment, which we are committed to make."


    Ford's commitment to sustainability and reduced dependence on fossil fuels means the company will continue to deliver products capable of running on renewable fuels such as bio-diesel and ethanol. Ford has more than five million flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) on the roads today globally. In the U.S., Ford has pledged to make half of its production capable of running on alternative fuels by 2012, provided the necessary fuel and infrastructure are in place.

    Ford currently offers a total of 14 flexible fuel vehicle models in various markets globally. Ford also continues to support the development of cellulosic biofuels, which in the long term promise up to 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

    Clean Diesels

    Ford's sustainability plan calls for adding more diesel engines to more products in more markets. By the end of the decade, Ford's large sport utility vehicles and best-selling F-150 will be available with a new mid-displacement clean diesel engine.

    Hybrid Electric Systems

    Ford is now in its fourth year producing the world's most fuel-efficient SUV - the Escape Hybrid. The company has three hybrids on the road: the Escape, Mercury Mariner Hybrid and Mazda Tribute Hybrid.

    Ford's blueprint for sustainability will build upon the company's expertise in hybrid technology. Two new hybrid sedans -the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid - will go into production later in 2008.

    Ford Plug-in Hybrids

    Ford's sustainability plan also calls for aggressive development of breakthrough technologies, such as plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell vehicles to ramp up to greater volumes once the technology challenges can be overcome.

    In December 2007, Ford will deliver the first Ford Escape Hybrid Plug-in to its partner Southern California Edison as part of a partnership to explore the commercialization of plug-in hybrids and the business models that might make them viable. The partnership is designed to advance plug-in technology as well as an energy vision that connects transportation to the energy grid.

    Hydrogen Power Ford is moving ahead with a range of technology solutions simultaneously, including hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engines. Ford began working on hydrogen technology in the early 1990s. Ford's first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, released in 2001, was used to develop its first hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine.

    Ford currently has a fleet of 30 hydrogen-powered Focus fuel cell vehicles on the road as part of a worldwide, seven-city program to conduct real-world testing of fuel cell technology. The fleet has accumulated more than 600,000 miles (965,000 kilometers) since its inception. With this fleet on the road, significant information that will be integrated into future fuel cell vehicle propulsion systems is being generated in different local environmental conditions.

    "Ford's blueprint for sustainability will deliver products that our customers want, that are affordable and that are good for the environment," Mulally said.

  • Originally posted on Fleet Financials